Risk of new variants remains: Dr Fong

January 22, 2022 7:08 am

The Ministry of Health acknowledges that there remains a high risk of a resurgence of endemic variants and the arrival of new variants.

But our socioeconomic survival depends on our ability to build and sustain individual and community-wide resilience.

Permanent Secretary Doctor James Fong says building resilience demands that we adopt healthier lifestyles and make COVID safe behavior a habit. This also includes supporting others to adopt, mainstream medical and community-wide oversight over vulnerable people and those at risk of not having timely access to health care.

Dr Fong is pleading with the general public to build up community surveillance mechanisms that depend on both medical and non-medical data sources to inform the Ministry early of impending epidemics or outbreaks.

He says that we should expect that COVID-19 will be endemic. However, “endemic” doesn’t mean harmless.

Dr Fong says endemic means that we expect continued circulation of the disease in the community, although at this stage it is too early to determine our expected baseline levels.

Leptospirosis, typhoid, and dengue are endemic in Fiji and are associated with serious outcomes, especially when cases increase above expected levels and result in an epidemic (outbreak).

The Ministry’s objective is to live with the virus and at the same time ensure a high level of transmission suppression, and prevention of severe outcomes.

Endemic diseases need constant suppression until their consequences are as low as the usual flu viruses.